Apparently it wasn’t enough that Osama Bin Laden had spawned a movement of mass murdering fanatics who killed thousands of innocent people around the world, most of whom were Muslim. Now US “officials” speaking “on the condition of anonymity” are claiming that Bin Laden was a porn hound who kept an “extensive” stash of adult films in his home.
The US media has gone wild over the story: Lawrence O’Donnell led with it last night on MSNBC; Reuters reported on it; and the NY Post blared out the headline, “Osama Gone Wild.” At the Daily Beast, Asra Nomani published a long think piece explaining how Bin Laden’s supposed porn addiction “reveals the Muslim world’s dirty secret.”
The revelations about our latest national folk devil’s perversions made me wonder if Bin Laden borrowed his porn stash from the jailed former Panamanian strongman and bygone boogeyman Manuel Noriega.
Back in 1989, after Noriega was captured by US forces in Panama, the press was given exclusive access to the dictator’s inner sanctum. Time Magazine reported at the time:
But other evidence suggested that the dictator was losing control of himself: U.S. troops searching his various hideouts found, along with pictures of Adolf Hitler, collections of pornography and sophisticated weapons and more than 50 kilos of cocaine. In one Noriega guesthouse, searchers found a bucket of blood and entrails, which they said may have been used for occult rites to protect him. Was the accused drug trafficker deteriorating into a megalomaniac drug user?
As Michael Parenti later noted, the Hitler picture came from a Time-Life photo history of World War II, the only “voodoo” implements found were San Blas Indian carvings, and the cocaine was actually tortilla flour. The “evidence” appeared to have been planted by the US to destroy whatever was left of Noriega’s reputation. “But,” Parenti wrote, “these belated corrections received scant coverage.”
Is it beyond the US to rehash the same tactics it deployed against Noriega, a former CIA asset, to discredit Bin Laden in the eyes of the world? Of course not, especially given Bin Laden’s assiduously cultivated image of piety. The charge not only looks extremely shabby, it adds an air of silliness to an affair the US has otherwise presented as deadly serious. Bin Laden was the spiritual leader of a movement that murdered thousands of innocent people across the globe. That fact alone should be enough to discredit him.
Update: Grace D. reminds me of the following “discoveries” by US forces in the compound of Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam (as reported by AP): “In addition to finding a lot of liquor, electronics, Cuban cigars and porn — U.S. soldiers say they found pictures of President George W. Bush’s twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush.”
Update #2: Bin Laden had weed! I wonder if he was posting #weedcommandments on Twitter.
Update #3: In 1992, Turkish police told the press they found a stash of caviar in the home of communist militant leader Dursun Karatas. They also claimed to have found “a stereo, large screen television with remote control, computer, fax, video, carpets, luxury items…”